In November, voters will offer President Obama a pass/fail grade on his first term. When it comes to foreign policy, one veteran observer says he deserves a solid "B+".
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a veteran foreign policy practitioner (he was National Security Advisor in the Carter administration) and analyst says successes in killing Osama Bin Laden and managing relations with Russia and the Far East have been balanced by failures in the Middle East. "His major failure has been in the Middle East where he committed himself to the achievement of peace within the first term of office," Brzezinski tells The Daily Ticker's Daniel Gross in the above video. "[Obama] obviously did not pursue it with adequate, in my judgment, commitment and energy. We have a situation in the Middle East which I think threatens America's role in the region and which could conceivably engulf us in a war with Iran which is something to be avoided from the standpoint of America's national interests."
More than 30 years ago, Brzezinski was at the center of foreign policy action: the brokering of the Camp David Accords, normalizing U.S.-China relations, pressing for a new arms control agreement with Moscow and overseeing the failed attempt by the U.S. government to rescue American hostages in Iran. And as he notes in his latest book, "Strategic Vision, America and the Crisis of Global Power," the players may have changed, but the same areas still post significant challenges.
In the interview, Brzezinski gave his unvarnished take on today's biggest foreign policy stories.
On Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S.:
It's a largely symbolic effort to introduce the next president of China to U.S. "Each recognizes both will suffer if they get into some sort of conundrum that complicates their relationship or generates hostility," Brzezinski notes.
On why the West shouldn't respond to the turmoil in Syria the same way it did in Libya:
"One difference between [Libya and Syria] is the geopolitical reality that in the case of Libya it was much more accessible from the outside by forces," says Brzezinski. "The West has much less access," to Syria. As a result, the U.S. has to lead from behind. "We have to rely on our friends (the Turks and the Saudis) to take the lead and we should support them if they decide to do whatever they think is necessary to get the situation under control."
On the European Debt Crisis:
"Perhaps more could have been done to provide for more central control particularly in the financial monetary area," says Brzezinski. "[The European Union] didn't create effective budgetary controls. I'm afraid that Greece played fast and loose and has created a situation in which is increasingly costly to Greece first of all but potentially the European Union as well."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski
- President Obama
- National Security Advisor